MEN’S BASKETBALL: Yale wins conference with victory over Brown
The Yale men’s basketball team won their third regular season championship in the last four seasons, putting themselves in position for another NCAA tournament appearance.
The Yale men’s basketball team will be the number one seed in next weekend’s Ivy League Tournament.
The Bulldogs (20–7, 10–4 Ivy) took care of business on the road against Brown University (14–13, 7–7 Ivy) in their Ivy League regular-season finale. The Bears — and their sold-out crowd of 2,003 fans — were hoping to gain their first ever bid to Ivy Madness, but the Elis showed no mercy, winning 84–75 and eliminating them from contention. For the Bulldogs, the win also secured the Ivy League crown and the number one seed in the conference tournament.
“It was an unbelievable college environment,” head coach James Jones said about the crowd. “Our guys played really tough. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to win on the road in a hostile environment, and it shows the character of the guys in our locker room.”
Guard tandem Bez Mbeng ’25 and John Poulakidas ’25 led the way for the Bulldogs, with Mbeng scoring a career-high 27 points on 10–12 shooting from the field and Poulakidas adding 14 points of his own.
Mbeng is just the latest Bulldog to record a new career high over the last three games. As part of Yale’s 19-point comeback against Princeton University, Poulakidas scored a career-best 30 points, and the following game against Cornell University, forward EJ Jarvis ’23 almost doubled his previous career high with a 34-point performance.
Forward Danny Wolf ’26, also recorded a career-high eight points to go along with five rebounds. Wolf has hit at least one three-pointer in each of the Bulldogs last three games.
“We’re fortunate to have some really good players on this team, and unfortunately for some of them, we’ve got a lot of good guys that don’t get to show what they can do in a game,” Jones said earlier this week. “It’s what happens with a good team, we have a lot of guys that can help us and we’ve been fortunate to have those players step up.”
The Blue and White got out to a 23–9 lead in the opening ten minutes, but the Bears fired back with a flurry of threes to flip the game script and take a 31–28 lead a few minutes later. A Poulakidas three put Yale back on top 34–33 with eight seconds remaining in the half, but it was clear that Brown had found new life heading into the locker room.
“Our guys played really tough,” Jones said. “We did some things out of character to let them back in the game, but we hunkered down and made the right plays down the stretch.”
As the season’s final 20 minutes of play ensued, the game looked like it could go down to the wire, as the teams traded shots back and forth. But a four-point margin quickly ballooned into a double-digit lead for the Bulldogs as Mbeng and Poulakidas sank back-to-back threes on consecutive possessions to make it 56–46.
The Bears cut the lead to as little as five points with 2:55 remaining, but sound defense and free throw shooting kept the Elis ahead as they came out on top 84–75.
Brown head coach Mike Martin had high praise for the Blue and White after the game.
“We had some great moments, but they have really good players,” he said. “The best thing about their team is their balance.”
The win, in addition to crushing Brown’s postseason ambitions, marks Yale’s third regular season championship in the last four seasons and their sixth total under Jones.
For senior big man Jarvis however, the job isn’t finished yet.
“I think the tour still goes until we’re off to March Madness,” Jarvis said. “These are just regular season games. We want the whole thing.”
The Bulldogs have been the Ivy League’s representative at the NCAA tournament each of the last three seasons, although the 2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Hoping to earn a bid to the Big Dance for the fourth straight year, Yale will face off against fourth-seeded Cornell (17–10, 7–7) in the semifinal of the Ivy tournament. The winner will play the winner of the other semifinal between Princeton (19–8, 10–4) and Penn (17–12, 9–5).
Yale and Cornell will face off next Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and the game will air on ESPN+.